New research from the University of London has proved welcome news to those jetting off to warmer climates this winter as they identified sunlight as key to stopping the spread of chickenpox.

Having examined data on the spread of the varicella-zoster virus across 25 countries, Dr Phil Rice identified a link to climatic factors and in particular UV levels.

He said: "No-one had considered UV as a factor before, but when I looked at the epidemiological studies they showed a good correlation between global latitude and the presence of the virus."

The findings go some way to explain why chickenpox is more common in countries with low sunlight levels such as the UK, although linked factors such as temperature and humidity also play a role.

But the Health Protection Agency has warned travellers to protect themselves against other diseases when seeking the sun.

Most malaria cases in the UK are acquired by those visiting West Africa with 20 per cent of the over 500 incidences being diagnosed in December and January.

Dr Jane Jones, a travel health expert at the HPA, said: "All travellers to malaria risk areas - whether native to that country or not - need to be aware of the risk when travelling.

"Pre-travel medical advice should be sought from a GP or a travel clinic at least six weeks before travel and travellers must take medication before, during and after their trip, as well as anti-mosquito precautions while they are away, to keep safe."

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For more information visit www.hpa.org.uk and look out for exclusive video content from JFHC's recent Roundtable discussion about the benefits of vitamin D coming soon.
Posted on 19/12/2011 by richard.hook@pavpub.com